kagoul: n wind breaker; poncho. A light waterproof jacket, usually one that zips up into an unfeasibly small self-contained package. The word derives from the French “cagoule” (meaning much the same thing), which in turn comes from the Latin “cuculla,” meaning “hood.” In the U.S. technical theatre industry a “kagoul” is a black hood worn by magicians’ stagehands to render them invisible-ish. I once thought about writing a whole book dedicated to the word “kagoul,” but then decided against it.
kecks: n pants (U.S. pants); trousers. May come from India, where “kachs” are loose-fitting trousers with a low crotch.
kerb: n curb. Not entirely sure how the different spellings arose.
kerfuffle: n Scottish big fuss; rumpus. The word “fuffle” (meaning to dishevel) arrived in Scottish English in the 16th century; the word gained a “car-” in the 19th, to arrive in the 20th with its current spelling.
khasi: n pron. “kah-zee” toilet: I’m away to the khasi to drain the lizard. Less likely in more refined conversation: Excuse me, madam - could you direct me to the khasi? It may be derived from Arabic. This might not be true. People lie to me all the time.
kick the bucket: v die. I am going to assume that this refers to an important part of the hanging-yourself procedure if you don’t happen to have a chair. Somewhat informal, as you might have guessed: Jimmy says he can’t buy a car until his grandmother kicks the bucket.
kip: n sleep: I’m just off home for an hour for some kip. It’s a Dutch word meaning a rather run-down place to sleep.
Kirby grip: n Bobby pin. The little pins you poke in your hair to keep it in place.
kit: n sports uniform (e.g. rugby kit, football kit). More generally in the U.K., kit refers to the equipment necessary to perform a particular task - usually, though not always, sporting. The boundary is woolly to such a degree that it’s difficult to generalise - I’ve heard all sorts of things from parachutes to computers referred to as “kit.” nice piece of kit an item particularly good at performing its task in hand. Again it could refer to pretty much anything, though I think you’d be more likely to describe your new camera as a nice piece of kit than, say, your fiancé.
kitchen roll: n paper towel. The disposable paper cloth, much akin to a larger, stronger version of toilet paper, that one generally keeps in the kitchen and uses to mop up bits of food and drink that have been inadvertently thrown around. So called, I’d imagine, because Brits keep it in the kitchen and it comes on a roll. Americans call it “paper towel,” no doubt because it’s made of paper and works like a towel.
Kiwi: n New Zealander: We tried this other bar but it was full of drunk Kiwis. Also an abbreviated name for a Kiwifruit.
knackered: adj very tired; beat. The “knacker’s yard” was once a place where old horses were converted into glue.
knees-up: n party. A rather antiquated word. A knees-up is more likely to involve some post-menopausal ladies singing around a piano than a bunch of bright young things doing lines off the coffee table.
knickers: n women’s underpants. In old-fashioned English and American English, “knickers” (an abbreviation of the Dutch-derived word “knickerbockers”) are knee-length trousers most often seen nowadays on golfers.
knob: also occasionally “nob” 1 n penis. As well as referring to the part of the body, it can be used as an insult. 2 v screw; bone. This implies active use of said penis and is similar to “shag.” This word appears regularly in American place names, much to the amusement of Brits. Two British favourites are Bald Knob, Arkansas and Knob Lick, Missouri.
knock about: n sport practise: Jimmy and I are taking the football to the park for a knockabout.
knock up: v bang upon someone’s door, generally to get them out of bed: OK, g’night - can you knock me up in the morning? In U.S. English, “knocking someone up” means getting them pregnant. Although most Brits will feign innocence, they do know the U.S. connotations of the phrase and it adds greatly to the enjoyment of using it. Both Brits and Americans share the term “knocking off,” to mean various other things.